Car thief flees prison in fire truck

Jan. 3, 2012 at 9:04 AM
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OTAY MESA, Calif., Jan. 3 (UPI) -- A convicted car thief was true to his roots when he boosted a fire truck to escape a California prison on New Year's Day, officials said.

Officials said Thomas Francis Kelley, 51, escaped from the Donovan Correctional Facility in Otay Mesa Sunday by jumping into the fire truck and driving off, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Monday.

"It appears he just jumped in the vehicle and left," Donovan spokesman Lt. Patrick Logan said.

Kelley was in jail for a parole violation, Logan said. Kelley was at large as of Monday night.

Logan said inmates assigned to firefighting duties are screened and given a measure of freedom because they are housed outside the prison's secure perimeter.

A release from Donovan facility Monday said deputies saw a fire truck driving erratically in Spring Valley, about 10 miles from the prison. When the deputies pulled the engine over, the driver fled.

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